Image Eleanor Bannister

Needs Matter How the two-child limit and the benefit cap harm children

Published July 14, 2022

Households with dependent children have additional financial needs, tied to the costs of looking after and bringing up children. This has long been acknowledged by our social security system, through a combination of universal and means-tested support. However, two policies introduced by the Conservative-led governments of 2010-15 and 2015-17 have greatly reduced the support available for families with children, especially where families live in areas of high rent (the benefit cap) and where families have more than two children (the two-child limit).

In this rapid-response briefing, we share new findings from qualitative research with families directly impacted by these policies. We detail the material, social, emotional and relational harms these policies cause children. We highlight how children are often keenly aware of the hardship their family faces, sometimes trying to protect their parents from the consequences of poverty. We show how the continuation of these policies during the cost of living crisis is creating an almost impossible context for affected families, with a risk of causing long-lasting harm for millions of children. Both policies should be abolished as part of a commitment to tackling child poverty, and ensuring that all children have the chance to enjoy a safe and happy childhood.

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